Indigenous Tribal Rights Forum said ANI had ‘storified an incredulous press statement’.
News agency ANI retracted a story today after Manipur’s Indigenous Tribal Leader Forum said it was based on a “fake press release”.
ANI’s report had alleged the forum had extended an “apology to Kuki Zo people for misguidance, conflict with Meitei people”. The report, which was also republished by the Times of India, was based on an “official statement” from the ITLF.
But the ITLF issued a statement soon after saying the press release on which the report was based was “fake”.
“In this period of violence and unending propaganda unleashed by the Meitei community, one wrong information/a false viral message can incite violence and get people killed,” the statement said. “This is precisely why on July 3, 2023, the ITLF came out with a press statement informing the public that miscreants were indulging in forging our letterhead and releasing fabricated statements.”
ITLF said it had asked the media to contact the forum through its website and social media channels for any clarification. But “to our utter dismay, ANI storified an incredulous press statement without bothering to clarify with us”. The statement demanded that ANI withdraw the story and apologise. Otherwise, ITLF would initiate a legal suit.
ANI complied shortly after, saying the “source of the press release is questionable”.
ITLF’s statement said Times of India and “any other media house” that had republished ANI’s report must “immediately kill the story link and remove it from all social media posts”. At the time of publishing this report, the Times of India story was still up on its website.
ITLF spokesperson Ginza Vualzong told Newslaundry: “We have not filed any police case against ANI as they have issued an apology and took down the article. But we have filed a police complaint at Churachandpur police station against unidentified people for misusing our logo and signature on a fake letterhead.”